The Only Robins I want to See at Christmas Have Wings

What are your feelings about round robins?  You know, those letters that arrive with your Christmas card updating you on the goings on of the sender over the past year.  Perhaps you can tell by the title – I don’t like them.

At the risk of offending some of you here, I’m sorry but  I just can’t help not liking them.  I appreciate that it’s a quick and easy way of updating people you don’t see very often with what’s been going on in your life but, really, I have to ask two questions.  If you really wanted them to know, wouldn’t you telephone them, email them or write to them (individually!) at some time during the rest of the year?  If they really wanted to know, wouldn’t they telephone you, email you or write to you at some time during the rest of the year?  In other words, if you were that interested in eachother, why would you wait a whole year to tell them your news?

What has sparked off this tirade, of course, is that we have just received a round robin which starts of  ‘Dear (in type)  ‘our names’ handwritten which of course is supposed to be more personal but just means a whole load of them were printed off and the names written in afterward for which, I assume, we must be grateful .   Then the author apologises for the impersonal letter but says it would take her hours of handwriting to inform all her family and friends what has been going on over the past year which implies a) we are a mere drop in the ocean of the vast network surrounding this very important person and b) we give a crap. 

After apologising for the ‘impersonal nature’ of the communication, we are given some extremely personal information.  Which boyfriend is history, and why, and what the new one does for a living. What medication is now being taken.  What surgery has been carried out and on what body part.  How busy, busy work is and how she deserved her holiday in the exotic location on the other side of the world.  If she had kids, which she doesn’t, I’m sure we would be told how well they were getting on at school and that their teachers suspect they might be ‘gifted’ .  I think it could be statistically proven that all children of round robin writers are exceptionally clever.

You might understand my rant a little better if I tell you that the giver of this particular annual information is Mr. Tialys’s sister who has our postal and email addresses and our phone number but not I hope, for the sake of future family relations, the link to my blog.

I do appreciate the irony of my complaint when here I am blogging about the trivia of my own life and people, most of whom don’t actually know me, come and read it just as I go on to other blogs and read about them.   But that’s different ………isn’t it?

So, if I haven’t offended you too much, my lovely, possibly round robin writing readers, what are your views?   Do you like receiving them/sending them/ranting about them?  I’d love to hear.


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  1. #1 by Anna on December 11, 2011 - 17:15

    Well, I am totally depressed now, as I don’t even get that!
    But in a way I am glad, as you said, if you never hear from them, why on Christmas?
    Very strange.

  2. #2 by Jan Marriott on December 11, 2011 - 19:13

    Oh you are treading on dangerous ground, perhaps you secretly hope SIL will see this post.
    I still get a couple of those ‘greetings’ . One family that once were neighbors have been sending them for 30 years, I have never met their youngest girl but it is obvious that she is not the favorite…..funny, you can sometimes tell a lot about a person from regular (even if only once a year) mail.

  3. #3 by Mary Ellen on December 12, 2011 - 15:43

    I like them if they’re not too long and personal, especially from people that write well. I always thought I should send one, but never had anything interesting to write about! Of course, I would hope that my own brothers and sister didn’t need to be told about my life in a letter once a year. It’s the pictures of children that I always question. I feel like I have to keep them, then have no clue who they are when I find them years later.

  4. #4 by houdini on December 14, 2011 - 01:07

    OH dear…I was about to write exactly one of those ’round robin’ letters!!


    Admittedly, I wasn’t planning on sending them to close family members or even close friends who I speak to regularly; no, instead I was intending to forward these onto those people from my past that I don’t see or generally hear from. People who I was at university with, old neighbours, old friends, distant relatives, friends abroad; people who no longer play an active role in my present life…but yet are still very much part of my history, and thus potentially my future.

    I am pretty good at keeping in touch with people – and have always been the link between groups of friends who only remained in contact through me. But life takes hold sometimes – often an excuse, but usually very true valid. There are people I don’t speak to often, for one reason or another, but I would hate the idea of not knowing that they’re ok – nor potentially available for that impromptu hook-up, catch-up, re-kindle. Does that make sense? I essentially send them to people I don’t want to lose touch with…forever.

    I haven’t done one for years – yet decided this was the year to re-robin! 😉

    Should I not waste my time? I would hate for any friend receiving one to be offended by it’s generalness.

    A x

    • #5 by tialys on December 14, 2011 - 10:34

      After my rant – caused, I think, from getting one from a Sister – I did calm down a bit! I still think getting one from very close friends or family is a bit odd and, at the other end of the scale, people you had a brief acquaintance with once, long ago, who then tell you about everything that’s ever happened to them since and to people they know but you don’t and never have. However, there is a middle ground, people you have known well and with whom you still keep in contact, albeit only at Christmas, who would probably like to keep up to date with certain aspects of your life. I think Mary Ellen hit the nail on the head where she says ‘I like them if they’re not too long and personal..’
      For instance, Al, you have just moved into a new house and I know you got some important new qualifications recently – big events which people would be interested in. Whether they’d want to know that you spent a day at Chatsworth House in the summer – for example – is another matter and possibly a step too far. I’m not suggesting that is something you would put in a round robin but it is the sort of detail I have received from long lost cousins in the past.
      I think Al, as you have a good blog full of great photos etc., you could write a succinct letter with the highlights and include a link to your blog so that people who do want to know more can come and feast their eyes.
      Or, just do what you were going to do in the first place because there are people who love round robins and want to know all the gory details. What do I know, after all? I only expressed a personal opinion and was interested to know what other people thought. You are a good writer and I’m sure people will welcome whatever it is you decide to send. 🙂

  5. #6 by houdini on December 14, 2011 - 13:44

    No it was a great post Lynn – and made me think about the whole concept of ’round robins’ (never knew they were called that either). I didn’t get round to writing one last night anyhow – and now much prefer your idea of including a link to my blog in the Christmas Card instead – that will save me a lot of time and hassle – plus people get to see the pics!! 😉 So thanks for that.

    Also, MANY MANY thanks for the beautiful tubber that has JUST this hour arrived on my doorstep. It is absolutely wonderful and a very welcomed (but far too generous!!) surprise. I love love LOVE it – and it goes so well with my Christmas colour scheme! (I always appear to go for the traditional golds and reds!) I cant wait to use it.

    Thanks again – Al x

  6. #7 by Handmade in Israel on January 3, 2012 - 23:39

    I LOVE your post. You made me laugh out loud! However… I am a round robin sender 😦 My dear Mum died several years ago and I send four cards each year to her good friends just to tell them that I remember them and their friendship with my Mum. I even send them a photo of the kids – yikes! You’re making me think twice now whether it is a naff thing to do, but I genuinely think they like to hear from me.
    PS. We don’t celebrate Xmas over here – it’s not that I am mean only sending four 4 cards, lol!
    PPS. They’re nice, handmade cards 😉

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